Hollywood’s Vaccine Wars: L.A.’s “Entitled” Westsiders Behind City’s Epidemic

Hollywood’s Vaccine Wars: L.A.’s “Entitled” Westsiders Behind City’s Epidemic (The Hollywood Reporter)

“Whether it’s measles or pertussis, the local children statistically at the greatest risk for infection aren’t, as one might imagine, the least privileged — far from it. An examination by The Hollywood Reporter of immunization records submitted to the state by educational facilities suggests that wealthy Westside kids — particularly those attending exclusive, entertainment-industry-favored child care centers, preschools and kindergartens — are far more likely to get sick (and potentially infect their siblings and playmates) than other kids in L.A. The reason is at once painfully simple and utterly complex: More parents in this demographic are choosing not to vaccinate their children as medical experts advise. They express their noncompliance by submitting a form known as a personal belief exemption (PBE) instead of paperwork documenting a completed shot schedule.

It’s no secret that anti-vaccine sentiments run high on the Westside. But the data reveals a community where ambiguous fears about the perceived threat of immunization have in fact caused a very real threat. This is a hard topic to discuss, especially here in Hollywood. It hinges on parental choices that directly impact your own children and other parents’ kids, too — a dinner-party land mine to be avoided at all costs. Few parents would speak to THR on the record about their decisions for fear of the backlash.

Yet this silence has turned the issue into a time bomb. At a time in which America is consumed with Ebola fears, a very real and preventable health crisis could explode in our backyard. With a whooping cough outbreak growing even faster than the swelling non-vaccination rate, questions of responsibility, both personal and collective, deserve urgent answers.”

Really well-researched, thought-provoking read. This is not mean-spirited anti-vaxxer propaganda, which I the article I started reading before I got to this one. I do support vaccinating children, but I don’t support vilifying people that don’t. We have to have a rational conversation about this, because people standing on either sides of a fence yelling at each other isn’t helping anyone, and it’s only making parents dig in further.

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Mental Health Cops Help Reweave Social Safety Net In San Antonio

Mental Health Cops Help Reweave Social Safety Net In San Antonio

“[20 years ago], the police were repeatedly arresting the same people; many not only had a serious mental illness but were also addicted to drugs or alcohol and were often homeless. And whether they went to the jail or the ER, it was expensive for everyone — the jails, the hospitals and the police department that had to pay for overtime while cops waited at the hospital.

San Antonio’s response was to require all officers to take a 40-hour course called Crisis Intervention Training – to learn how to handle mental health crises. But even with strong programs, there’s only so much that training alone can do; there’s still the problem of where to take patients [with serious mental illness].

San Antonio tackled that problem, too. People who commit a felony still go to jail, regardless of their mental status. And those who need extensive medical care are taken to the hospital. But San Antonio built another option: the Restoration Center, a separate facility with a full array of mental and physical health services. 

San Antonio and Bexar County have transformed their mental health system into a program considered a model for the rest of the nation. Today, the jails aren’t full, and the city and county have saved $50 million over the past five years.”

This is your hopeful story for the day, and between the Middle East & Ferguson, MO, not to mention the Ebola virus, we need all the good news we can get.

Nina Mitchell: The Great Escape

Nina Mitchell: The Great Escape

I started reading Nina’s essays on The Hairpin a few years ago, and I was immediately fascinated by the story of a 26 year old woman who wakes up one morning, realises she’s had a stroke, and knows her life will never be the same. She also wrote a longer piece for The AtlanticWhen I Was 26, I Had a Stroke: The Escape, but the link I’m sending you to here today is actually an audio file, taken from The Moth. It’s Nina telling the story of her stroke, in her own words, and listening to her talk about that time in her life (over 10 years ago now) is both moving and also very, very funny.

Finally, I encourage you to check out her blog, Mindpop, where she still posts regularly.

Horseshoe crab blood (and, why conservation pays)

Horseshoe crab blood (and, why conservation pays)

Horseshoe crab-like creatures were here when the dinosaurs appeared, and they were here after the dinosaurs disappeared. They survived ancient global warming and ice ages alike. And then people happened. 

“Over a hundred years ago, they were ground up and put on land as a fertilizer,” says Eric Hallerman, professor of fish conservation at Virginia Tech. In places like the Delaware Bay, 90 percent of the crab population was wiped out, and not a great many people cried about it. 

Then in the ’70s, people discovered that they need the crabs for something much more valuable. “Every human on the face of the earth, if they’ve ever been given an injectable medicine, has been touched by LAL,” says Allen Bergenson with biomedical firm Lonza. 

Love this. Environmentalists need to keep reframing the conversation, and they will continue to see more changes for the better.

 

How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession

How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession

Nine of 10 doctors discourage others from joining the profession, and 300 physicians commit suicide every year. When did it get this bad?

While depression amongst physicians is not new—a few years back, it was named the second-most suicidal occupation—the level of sheer unhappiness amongst physicians is on the rise.

Simply put, being a doctor has become a miserable and humiliating undertaking. Indeed, many doctors feel that America has declared war on physicians—and both physicians and patients are the losers.

Reading this was very eye-opening, because I, like many Americans, assumed doctors were living the high life. And certainly some doctors are, but primary care doctors, our doctors, the ones we go to for our yearly checkups, our flu shots, and to fix our general ailments, these doctors are not faring so well.

We all need to be on the same page in order to fix the healthcare crisis in this country.

White House Masked Fears of Obamacare Collapse

White House Masked Fears of Obamacare Collapse [via Political Wire]

“During the darkest days of the website meltdown, Obama made it clear to those who asked that it was crucial for him not to fire any high-ranking administration officials. Sebelius and McDonough both reasonably feared they would be shown the door.”

“Holding a maligned, self-doubting team together in moments of peril is too often oversimplified by the phrase ‘No Drama Obama.’ It’s more complex than that. Obama has convinced himself that scaring people with a ceremonial firing deepens fear, turns allies against one another, makes them risk-averse, and saps productivity. At no time was this distillation of presidential power put to more strenuous administration-wide test.”

This is the part of politics I really enjoy – the behind the scenes analysis after a major event. This is when you find out what really happened, not what they wanted you to think happened.

The Indian sanitary pad revolutionary

The Indian sanitary pad revolutionary

“A school dropout from a poor family in southern India has revolutionized menstrual health for rural women in developing countries by inventing a simple machine they can use to make cheap sanitary pads.

Arunachalam Muruganantham’s invention came at great personal cost – he nearly lost his family, his money and his place in society. But he kept his sense of humor.”

Reading this filled me with absolute joy. This man selflessly, over the span of many years, made women’s health and financial independence a priority, to his own detriment. He’s my new hero, and he is proof that men can be feminists, too.